The first election I followed closely was that of 2008. I had just joined AD and was much greener (pun not intended) back than. I couldn’t, for instance, understand the sceptic look my colleagues gave when electoral promises such as regulating party financing and investing in renewable energy were made.

I only understood later, when the promises failed to materialize.

By now I’ve got much more used to the way Maltese politics is done, the empty promises, the not-so-indirect vote buying and the superficial way issues are addressed by the PNPL in their attempts to please everyone.

Yet, this general election, the first one that I’m contesting has become even more surreal than that. The issues are barely being discussed, even superficially. They’ve literally been given secondary importance.

Instead, the PNPL just ended up competing on which side can unearth most skeletons from the other side’s closet. The PL attack on Austin Gatt and Zaren Vassallo while the PN retaliate on Anglu Farrugia and Toni Abela.

On a positive note, I strongly believe this will be the first election where AD elects at least one candidate in parliament. While the PNPL are playing “the other side is dirtier” game, we’re talking about issues. And more and more Maltese people, especially but definitely not exclusively they younger ones, are realizing this.

While the PNPL are busy throwing as much mud as possible on each other, we’re talking about increasing the minimum wage, equal rights regardless of sexual orientation, regulating party financing, the overdevelopment of our land and rape of our countryside, spring hunting, decriminalizing the personal use of drugs and a dozen other issues that directly affect the life of the Maltese people.

The choice is now yours. 2000 votes in one district can elect an AD candidate.

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As I write, many Maltese people are biting their nails to see whether Franco Debono votes against the government or abstains. Half of them wish he abstains, the other half hope he’ll bring the government down. “Nazzjonalisti u Laburisti”, same old story.

Much less noticed are two young gentleman spending days braving the cold at Valletta City gate collecting signatures for a petition against the obnoxious development of 24 apartments and 26 garages in the middle of the picturesque valley of Wied il-Ghasel, Mosta. They are representing Harsien Patrimonju Mosti, that has been pulling a hard fight against the rape of the valley for years. They are also fighting a battle against time since though pending an appeal next June, the construction is going on at this very moment.

What has this got to do with what’s going on in Parliament and democracy? Much more than you think.

Before it degraded itself into mud throwing and petty bickering, most of the “Franco Debono issue” was about transparency, accountability and democracy. And while I may disagree on Franco Debono’s tactics, about the issues he put brought to surface I can only say one thing – He is right.

As can be seen in the well documented saga of the destruction of Wied il-Ghasel on Harsien Patrimonju Mosti’s website www.it-tarka.com the rape of the valley was given the green light through a process marred by conflicts of interest, lack of accountability and a massive exploitation of legal loopholes.

The destruction of this valley, like all the other past and present environmental scandals goes against the interest of Maltese citizens who have a vote. Yet, even at the risk of losing their votes without gaining others to compensate (for instance losing the votes of conservatives but in return gaining the votes of liberals when taking a stand on divorce or gay marriage) the abuse goes on.

Doesn’t this raise an eyebrow or two?

Isn’t it a pity that the much needed arguments on transparency and accountability Franco Debono was talking about have descended to petty bickering and mudslinging before even seriously discussed?

PS: I urge everyone who really love this country to download the petition from www.it-tarka.com print it, sign it, distribute it amongst friends and post it in the provided address. With around 30,000 signatures, the President will be asked to intervene. By the time of writing around 19,000 signatures have been collected.